With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: Gendering Emotions in Late Medieval and Early Modern Iberia

This presentation will investigate the intersection between madness, power, excessive behavior, grief, and reputation in medieval and early modern Iberia. Although this paper will approach these themes broadly, the presenter will focus on particular individuals and their social and cultural contexts, and more specifically on Queen Isabel of Portugal (1428-96), wife of Juan II of Castile, and her lady in waiting Beatriz de Silva (1424-1492). As recorded, their relationship was difficult and while Beatriz de Silva became a religious figure, the founder of the Monastic Order of the Immaculate Conception of Our Lady, and is celebrated as a Saint of the Catholic Church, Isabel of Portugal, the mother of Isabel the Catholic, was marginalized as mentally imbalanced. This presentation will examine these two women’s lives and afterlives suggesting that Isabel of Portugal’s madness was exaggerated by later writers in order to highlight Beatriz’s saintliness. This paper will study the experience of these women because it opens a window on the early development of the notion of propriety and sanity, in an age that predates Foucault’s seventeenth-century “Age of Confinement” and Philip Aries’ notion that intense emotion in mourning only developed in the Romantic period.


SpeakerNúria Silleras-Fernández, Associate Professor of Spanish and Portuguese, University of Colorado at Boulder and Author, Chariots of Ladies: Francesc Eiximenis and the Court Culture of Medieval and Early Modern Iberia


Presented by the Hofstra Cultural Center

In collaboration with the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures; European Studies Program; and Center for "Race," Culture and Social Justice.


Date: Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Times: 2:55-4:30 p.m.

Location: Guthart Cultural Center Theater, Axinn Library


This event is free, but registration is required. Please RSVP by using the RSVP for this Event link.

Wednesday, March 04, 2020



Cultural Center Theater - Leo A. Guthart
Guthart Cultural Center Theater
Hofstra University
Hempstead, NY 11549


Hofstra Cultural Center

Phone: 516-463-5669
Website: Click to Visit

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